Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Summer Solstice

and National Aboriginal Day

Nuxalk Sun Mask

The Telegraph: The sun has been the inspiration for hundreds of songs, but now scientists have discovered that the star at the centre of our solar system produces its own music. [Listen to it here.]

Astronomers at the University of Sheffield have managed to record for the first time the eerie musical harmonies produced by the magnetic field in the outer atmosphere of the sun. They found that huge magnetic loops that have been observed coiling away from the outer layer of the sun's atmosphere, known as coronal loops, vibrate like strings on a musical instrument. In other cases they behave more like soundwaves as they travel through a wind instrument...

The coronal loops are thought to be involved in the production of solar flares that fling highly charged particles out into space... When the sun's activity, and thus solar flare production, increases, the resulting 'space storm' can have catastrophic results here on earth, destroying electronic equipment, overheating power grids and damaging satellites... Studying the 'music of the sun' would provide new ways of understanding and predicting solar flares before they happen.
Image sources here and here.